On Metal Chaos Ensemble: "... ​using unique strategies to yield densely active and eerily surreal music, an incredible excursion through experimental improvisation."   - Squidco website staff

Liner Notes by PEK

Every once in a while, there is a break in the crazy schedule here at Evil Clown and I have some time to do a solo album.  Our grand olde pal, the Corona Virus has provided such a break in spades….  At the beginning of the 2020, it appeared that the year would be our busiest yet…  We did a bunch of albums in January, February and the first weeks of March, and then I was forced to cancel a bunch of wonderful performances scheduled for the months that followed.   So, I caught up all my old business:  web site, social media, distribution, and the other non-musical activity required to drive the enterprise.  Then I took a month off…  my biggest rest since I started up in 2015 after my long hiatus.  In mid-May I started up again, conceiving some new means of producing some of the enormous output normally achieved by Evil Clown.  In the Fall I did a huge series of solo works along with a few Metal Chaos Ensemble sets.

Now entering the second calendar year to be affected by the Stupid Virus, I really miss playing with others…  For obvious reasons, I have been producing a lot more PEK Solo albums than I do typically.  I conceived a structural schema for producing solo works while we wait for the virus to be over.  As with larger ensemble Evil Clown sessions, the planning involves selecting sound resources from the massive Evil Clown Arsenal and setting up the studio with these instruments to allow rapid changes in instrumentation and therefore in sonority.  This system provides a framework to create solo works that are sufficiently different from each other that I can continue to produce new work at something close to my usual rate even while I can’t perform with others.

The PEK Solo albums fall into four categories:

1)  One continuous track (no overdubbing) of PEK playing one or many instruments with or without signal processing.
2)  One continuous track of PEK playing one or many instruments with a prerecorded mix of samples drawn from the Evil Clown Catalog or specially recorded at Evil Clown Headquarters.  Solo albums from before 2020 fall into the categories 1 & 2.
3)  A Quartet of PEKs – Four continuous tracks of one PEK each playing many instruments on each pass.  Three of these albums, Schematic Abstractions for the Clarinet Family, Fixed Intentions for the Saxophone Family, and Completeness for Flutes and Double Reeds use very focused palettes.  Other Quartet of PEKs releases use broader palettes comprised of woodwinds, percussion, electronics, and strings.
4)  An Orchestra of PEKs – Many tracks of PEKs performing on a broad section of the Arsenal.  The last of these, Some Truths are Known, is a mammoth 4-hour studio construction / composition in 3 eighty-minute movements.  I list 110 instruments in the notes for this album….

The current session, Semantic Notions, is a category 4 set.  Like Some Truths Are Known, it is a massive 4-hour work in three 80-minute movements.  I’m really enjoying these very large format works which remind me in some ways of my Frame Notation Scores for the Leap of Faith Orchestra.  The methods are very different, but the goal is the same:  Erect a formal structure that controls a work’s development by applying composed structures to wholly improvised content. 

Review Excerpt by Darren Bergstein, Downtown Music Gallery  "… the wow factor is not only markedly high, it’s nigh on brainbursting. After experiencing a combined near four hours of densely woven, intricately performed, expertly overdubbed sound, your endurance will either be severely tested or you will further recede in your barcalounger beaten, bruised, but roundly sated. It must be said that when you decide to wholly give yourself to anything coming from the Evil Clown camp, patience is a virtue, open ears a mandate, full immersion a requirement…”


Excerpt from PEK Liner Notes

"...  Semantic Notions transforms through a huge set of sonorities ranging from sparse and quiet with one or a few instruments to dense and very chaotic thick sections and various levels of in-between.  The huge instrumentation allows very different sonorities not only for the thinner sections but even for the dense sections.  Hopefully, I achieve my aesthetic goal of telling a compelling story with sufficiently different overall character over the duration of the composition..."    


Squidco Blurb
"A mammoth undertaking by Boston multi-instrumentalist David Peck, 3 CDs of studio improvisations about language, one part per CD, performed on a vast array of reeds, percussive instruments and unusual sound sources, with drummer Yuri Zbitnoff joining for intermediate mixes, resulting in a multi-layered and unique sonic universe of depth and dexterity."

Instrument Photos..

Review:

Leap of Faith Orchestra performs

Supernovae by PEK

by Karl  Ackermann, AllAboutJazz.com

Liner Notes by PEK (cont...)

The compositional element is a methodology, an algorithm.  I create intermediate mixes in Ableton from samples of the Evil Clown Catalog, or by recording specially at Evil Clown Headquarters.  For Semantic Notions some of the intermediate mixes include:

- Three Quartet of PEKs sessions listed above (Schematic Abstractions, Fixed Intentions, Completeness)
- 16 PEK mixes of each of these (4 tracks of each at various pitch/time transformations)   
- 48 PEK mix of the above three 16 PEK mixes
- Metal Chaos Ensemble – Null Hypothesis (with Yuri Zbitnov)
- Metal Chaos Ensemble - Journey to Skull Island for wooden percussion (3 tracks of duets with Yuri Zbitnov and PEK)
- Thick Wood mix made from multiple transformed copies of Journey to Skull Island
- Sruti box mix
- Hand chimes mix

Using the above and other sources, I create an approximately 78-minute mix (length of a full CD) of varying sonority and density with silent gaps of 3 to 5 minutes.  Then I set up the studio with a bunch of string, percussion and electronic instruments.  I record two tracks of the entire duration of the work where I improvise textural support tracks.  Then I record one track of the entire duration with the room full of horns and other solo instruments.  The performance of these 3 final tracks is very similar in many ways to more conventional real-time improvisation in an ensemble with a few key differences:

- The general shape and color of the accompaniment tracks is known in advance.
- Instrument selection for some sections is decided in advance (particularly for the openings and conclusions)
- The dynamic profiles (wave forms) of the previously recorded tracks and pre-mixes are visible in the recording software, providing a clear picture over time of the earlier tracks and precise information on transition points.
- My improvisation language features phrasing as a principle element.  Improvising with accompaniment performed by myself means that I do not need to deduce in real time the phrasing of the other players.  It is possible to match my own phrases with near total precision.

Semantic Notions transforms through a huge set of sonorities ranging from sparse and quiet with one or a few instruments to dense and very chaotic thick sections and various levels of in-between.  The huge instrumentation allows very different sonorities not only for the thinner sections but even for the dense sections.  Hopefully, I achieve my aesthetic goal of telling a compelling story with sufficiently different overall character over the duration of the composition.

Until the stupid virus is over and more normal interactions are possible with other people, I will continue to create PEK Solo new works using the four concepts listed above and maybe some new ones.  There also may be some small group Leap of Faith and Metal Chaos Ensemble sets.  Evil Clown will resume its normal routines when vaccination is widespread, and it is safe to do so.

As usual, the chaos of the universe throws out problems which require our attention.   Expression must be expressed.  Music must be made.  The chaos of the universe demands it.

PEK – 1/26/21

Evil Clown 

PEK Solo, An Orchestra of PEKs -

                          Semantic Notions

Review by Darren Bergstein, Downtown Music Gallery

PEK SOLO - Semantic Notions (Evil Clown 9261; US) Does Dave PEK ever sleep? Me thinketh not. As evidenced by this absolutely massive, sprawling, epic three-disc set, it’s doubtful he ever leaves the studio except to down a quick nosh and slug of water. Anyway, the wow factor is not only markedly high, it’s nigh on brainbursting. After experiencing a combined near four hours of densely woven, intricately performed, expertly overdubbed sound, your endurance will either be severely tested or you will further recede in your barcalounger beaten, bruised, but roundly sated. It must be said that when you decide to wholly give yourself to anything coming from the Evil Clown camp, patience is a virtue, open ears a mandate, full immersion a requirement. Dave PEK’s work demands you get totally lost within its clutches, and believe me, you’ll be the better for it. Is there much in the way of categorical separation amongst these three magnum opuses, or even much that distinguishes them from earlier EC missives? No, but to think there would be again, misses the point. PEK creates what one may call absolute headphone music, multi-layered sonic world-building that feels composed but is made more remarkable thanks to it’s entirely improvised design. This might well be the key to PEK’s ongoing audiological genius. Nothing ever feels lazy or haphazard, nor do these lengthy discourses fall into sonic disarray, rampant atonality or causal drift. His releases are literal snapshots, recorded as he seizes the moment, striking when the aural iron’s hot if you will; his dogged, focused, highly disciplined work ethic necessitates the thorough examination of his ideas, regardless of limitations of time and space. Truth be told, the entirety of the EC catalog is all of a piece, and should be treated, regarded, and respected as such. There is so much magnificent sound-making on hand it’s difficult to break it down into its component parts, foolhardy, in fact, to even treat these gargantuan set-pieces so site-specifically. Suffice to say, all three discs trace vivid, confrontational, imagistic movies for the mind, alternating fat sax bursts and interwoven reed harmonics with vari-colored striations of moog electronics, throbbing sequencers, exotic percussives, random accessed metals, muffled primal screams, and numerous other complex motifs whose origins can only be guessed at. The list of instruments utilized boggles the mind, another example of PEK’s formidable prowess and seemingly bottomless ability to coax forth from these tools a mindmelt for anyone’s overtaxed pineal gland. Take the plunge, go deep, get buried—you won’t regret a moment.     


- Darren Bergstein, DMG

​​​​Evil Clown Headquarters, Waltham MA
November 2020 - January 2021

YouTube Videos..

Screen Grabs from Video of Performance..

On Leap of Faith: "Alien yet familiar, bizarre yet completely fascinating. Expanding, contracting, erupting, settling down, always as one force..." - Bruce Lee Gallanter, DMG

2

Composer and multi-instrumentalist, PEK, set his sights on something bigger with the Leap of Faith Orchestra's Supernovae. The previous incarnation of the LOFO expands from the fifteen musicians on The Expanding Universe (Evil Clown, 2016) to twenty-one players on this new outing. Another noteworthy element of this project is PEK's use of Frame Notation where the score is seen in written descriptions and straight-forward symbols within Duration Bars. The system provides the musicians with immediate understanding of their own parts and the higher-level arrangement of the music. 

Supernovae consists of a single track composition running just under eighty minutes. The digital download includes a bonus track. Though the extended piece is not broken out by formal movements, there are clear delineations within the score. PEK's ensemble—not surprisingly—includes enough non-traditional and weird instruments to compete with a Dr. Seuss orchestra. Though they are not playing in a vacuum, that group of instruments dominates the first ten minutes before strings and reeds make themselves more clearly heard. Forty-five minutes in, we have the first case of prolonged melody, darker and more subdued than the overall tone of the first half. 

Supernovae gives way to free improvisation overlaying the melody. Eventually the piece introduces a brilliant percussion passage before it reintroduces the non-traditional music elements, but here in a more refined manner. As with all of PEK's compositions, there is—behind the scenes—a painstaking amount of organization that is not always evident in the listening. That is part of the beauty of this album; the non-traditional approach to instrumentation and the lack of adherence to Western structure continue to make the various iterations of Leap of Faith consistently interesting. And interesting look at the written score can be viewed at http://www.evilclown.rocks/lofo-supernovae-score.html.

3 Audio CD s                                   Evil Clown 9261

PEK Solo - Semantic Notions


Evil Clown Headquarters, Waltham MA

​bandcamp streaming, downloads and CD mail Order

Squidco:  CD Mail Order


- CD 1:  Part 1) Language Acquisition - 1:19:05

                        (final tracks - 1/2/21)
- CD 2:  Part 2) Grammar Formulations - 1:19:34

                         (final tracks - 1/17/21)
- CD 3:  Part 3) Conceptual Relations - 1:18:35

                          (final tracks - 1/24/21)


PEK -Composition, all instruments, recording, mixing, mastering

- clarinets (piccolo, B flat, G Albert, alto, bass, contralto, contrabass)
- saxophones (sopranino, soprano, alto, tenor, baritone and bass)
- double reeds (oboe, English horn, bassoon, contrabassoon, bass tromboon, dulzaina, tarota, mussette, guanzis, nadaswaram, shenai)
- flutes (C flute & alto flute, Hulusis, 3 & 5 hole Russian flutes, Christmas flute, large bamboo flute, wood flutes, dizi and bass dizi)
- free reed aerophones (sheng, melodica, accordion, concertina, chromatic harmonica)
- other winds (goat horn, bass recorder, penny whistle, bass and alto ocarinas, wind siren, kazoo, fog horn, game calls)
- wood percussion (xylophone, log drum, wood blocks, temple blocks, rachet, seed pod rattle, castanets, rattles, dan-mo, claves)
- metal percussion (plate gong, gongs, brontosaurus & tank bells, crotales, Tibetan bowls and bells, finger cymbal, bell tree, Englephone, trine, flex-a-tone, cow bells, hand chimes, orchestral chimes, chimes)
- skins (daiko, tabla, ocean drum, talking drum)
- strings ([d]ronin, electric upright bass, electic cello, electric bass, guyzheng, soprano & bass Nagoya Harps)
- electronics (mallet kat wih moog subsequent, linnstrument with novation peak and prophet, korg ms-20, daxophone, Ableton premixes, digital delay, theremin with moogerfooger)
- other (aquasonic, spring tube, sruti box, voice)


Yuri Zbitnov: drums, xylophone & wood percussion on intermediate mixes


---------------------

Links to previous PEK solo releases


Schisms (2020)

bandcamp
YouTube  
Evil Clown Album Page


Precendents (2020)

bandcamp

YouTube  YouTube  YouTube  YouTube

Evil Clown Album Page


Coefficient of Unity  (2019)
bandcamp
YouTube  
Evil Clown Album Page


Indexical Utterance (2019)
bandcamp
YouTube  
Evil Clown Album Page

Closed & Open Universes (2019)
bandcamp
YouTube  
Evil Clown Album Page


The Unreality of Time (2018)

bandcamp
Evil Clown Album Page


Non-Local Causality (2018)
bandcamp
Evil Clown Album Page

Fulcrum  (2018)
bandcamp
YouTube  
Evil Clown Album Page


​Thulsa Doom (2017) 
bandcamp
YouTube  YouTube  YouTube  YouTube
Evil Clown Album Page